Summary of Computational Sustainability Papers at AAAI-2016

My survey of selected papers in the Computational Sustainability track of AAAI-2016 will appear in the July/August Issue of IEEE Intelligent Systems, with an allowed preprint on my website available now.  The preprint includes links to the papers in the online proceedings.

The IEEE Intelligent Systems article surveys computational methods that aid in various aspects of human decision making, to include data collection; learning models from data; model-based reasoning and simulation; reactive decision making under existing-design constraints; and designing sustainable environments “from scratch”. These methods are applied to sustainability applications involving the natural environment; socio-economic dimensions of sustainability; transportation; and other human-built infrastructure.

In addition to briefly summarizing each of the eighteen papers of the Computational Sustainability track, I offer some meta-commentary on

  • the potential rebound effects on the environment of computational applications (e.g., that result from making what are largely disfunctional traffic systems slightly more tolerable);
  • tradeoffs between various design criteria (e.g., designing road networks for routine commuting and design for emergency evacuation); and
  • being cautious about design criteria that are related to, but at a distance from, environmental impacts (e.g., energy cost savings versus energy use savings).

As editor of the Sustainability column of IEEE Intelligent Systems, I am on the lookout for guest columnists. If you have a computational sustainability topic that you would like to write up for a broad audience of computing professionals, please contact me … if I don’t contact you first! IEEE Intelligent Systems allows you to keep a preprint on your Website.

Douglas H. Fisher is CompSustNet’s Director of Outreach, Education, Diversity, and Synthesis. The opinions expressed herein are Doug’s and not necessarily those of Cornell University. Contact Doug at